The Cancer Prevention Project of Philadelphia: preliminary findings examining diversity among the African diaspora

Elizabeth Blackman, Kimlin Ashing, Denise Gibbs, Yin Ming Kuo, Andrew Andrews, Meganathan Ramakodi, Karthik Devarajan, Jackie Bucci, Gilda Jean-Louis, Oni Richards-Waritay, Barbara Wilson, Carlene Bowen, Eric Edi, Vera Tolbert, Raphiatou Noumbissi, Daramola N. Cabral, Jo Ann Oliver, Robin Roberts, Marshall Tulloch-Reid, Camille Ragin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: Cancer mortality inequity among persons of African Ancestry is remarkable. Yet, Black inclusion in cancer biology research is sorely lacking and warrants urgent attention. Epidemiologic research linking African Ancestry and the African Diaspora to disease susceptibility and outcomes is critical for understanding the significant and troubling health disparities among Blacks. Therefore, in a cohort of diverse Blacks, this study examined differences in genetic ancestry informative markers (AIMs) in the DNA repair pathway and the cancer related biomarker 4-(Methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (NNAL). Methods: Participants completed a questionnaire and provided bio-specimens. AIMs in or around DNA repair pathway genes were analyzed to assess differences in minor allele frequency (MAF) across the 3 ethnic subgroups. NNAL concentration in urine was measured among current smokers. Results: To date the cohort includes 852 participants, 88.3% being Black. Of the 752 Blacks, 51.3% were US-born, 27.8% were Caribbean-born, and 19.6% were Africa-born. Current and former smokers represented 14.9% and 10.0%, respectively. US-born Blacks were more likely to be smokers and poor metabolizers of NNAL. Two-way hierarchical clustering revealed MAF of AIMs differed across the 3 ethnic subgroups. Conclusion: Our findings are consistent with the emerging literature demonstrating Black heterogeneity underscoring African Ancestry genetic subgroup differences–specifically relevant to cancer. Further investigations, with data harmonization and sharing, are urgently needed to begin to map African Ancestry cancer biomarkers as well as race, and race by place\region comparative biomarkers to inform cancer prevention and treatment in the era of precision medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-675
Number of pages17
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021


  • African
  • African-American
  • Afro-Caribbean
  • Disparities
  • cancer screening
  • diversity
  • genetics
  • health behaviors
  • health care
  • immigrant health
  • prevention
  • race/ethnicity


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